Jane Von Bergen’s TheaterBeat brings you news and notes from the Philadelphia theater scene.

Greg Wood and Susan Riley Stevens, longtime theater vets who play Norm and his wife Corky in Steve Martin’s new comedy, Meteor Shower, bring their 17 years of marriage on stage when cast as a couple. “It’s not hard for us to be convincing,” said Wood. “There’s a lot that’s second nature – how we sit, how we hold hands, how we kiss. We don’t have to develop that relationship.”

In Martin’s comedy, playing at the Walnut Street Theatre through Oct. 27 (already extended from its original run), they play a couple that invites another couple to watch a meteor shower. Cocktails, nighttime, a couple of couples, hmmm.

“We’re both a little older and we were older when we got married,” Stevens said. “So, we don’t have any weird onstage stuff that we bring home. In this play, for example, we both kiss other people. With some people, there might be some discomfort or jealousy. But because we were both established actors before we met, we’re pretty clear on the boundaries between business and home life.”

When Martin’s Meteor Shower debuted on Broadway in 2017, the comedy had the Booth Theatre’s highest advance earnings in its 104-year history, with 99.5% capacity throughout its run.

“It is wonderfully and absurdly funny,” Wood said in an interview after early rehearsals. “I don’t think a day has gone by when we didn’t have to stop rehearsals because we were laughing” so hard.

Wood, Stevens and their family live in Merchantville. Wood said the two have played couples three or four times; Stevens thinks it’s four or five.

This week’s Fringe guest curator: Walter DeShields

Walter DeShields (in Sixers jersey) in last fall's Philadelphia Theatre Company production of "Sweat," with (from left) Matteo Scammell, Rich Hebert, and Kittson O'Neill
Paola Nogueras
Walter DeShields (in Sixers jersey) in last fall's Philadelphia Theatre Company production of "Sweat," with (from left) Matteo Scammell, Rich Hebert, and Kittson O'Neill

How many of this year’s Fringe Festival’s 179 shows have you had on your calendar? If the answer is none, don’t worry. The festival doesn’t close until Sunday. How to choose? We asked longtime Philadelphia theater presence Walter DeShields for his picks.

DeShields is an actor, director, and co-artistic director at Theatre in the X. The South Philly native has been rocking stages for nearly 30 years. Here’s what’s on his Fringe calendar:

  • The Murder and Booze Cabaret (Sept. 19-Sept. 21 at the Arden, Love Drunk Life). Theater can be fun – especially when everyone is drunk!
  • Translation: Cracking the Girl Code (Sept. 19, at the Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar; Sept. 22 at the William Way Community Center by 267 Productions). A trans girl group makes it big. This may be a vanguard production. Can’t wait to see it.
  • Dancing Again in Love (Sept. 20-Sept. 22 at Tree House Books by Sabriaya Shipley). Black Love will save the world.

All the world’s an office

One of the most interesting aspects of the Fringe Festival is the staging of works in places that normally don’t accommodate theater — a bookstore, empty warehouses, even the exclusive Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

To see FreeWork, a new play by Terrilyn McCormick, audiences will come to the offices of the Philadelphia law firm Kleinbard LLC, at Three Logan Square.

“At its core, FreeWork is a buddy comedy from a female perspective,” McCormick said. “I loved the idea of two women — an aging septuagenarian and a millennial — forming an unlikely friendship and pulling off a heist.” The play, by Open Concept Productions, runs from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22.